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  1. #1
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    High Contrast locations

    I have been thinking for a while about buying a good quality Graduated Neutral Density filter to handle occasions when there is a large difference between the lightest and darkest parts of a landscape image. The problem as I see it is that Graduated ND filters work best on things like sunsets where you have a relatively flat horizon. The filter I would like is about $150.00 and i am not sure I will get enough use from it. I know there are other ways to handle high contrast and I was wondering what techniques other people use that works.

    The ones I can think of are -

    Fixing it in post production, I am thinking this might be the best option as long as I check the Histogram to ensure I am not under / over exposing the shot. If in doubt underexposure?

    Filters like ND Filters,

    HDR / Bracketing, I have not used this technique so I am not sure how well it works.

    Interested to know what people do.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Re: High Contrast locations

    GradND have more practical applications where there are consecutive lines of light intensity transition within the scene. Those lines of transition need not necessarily be horizontal, such as for a sunset or sunrise, for example it could be a night time scene looking down a dark alleyway being half of the scene and lighted shop window situated in the other half of the scene.

    GradND have more practical applications when they are SQUARE (or some, but not all round) Filters that are placed in a Filter Holder or Mat Box. This application allows the filter to slide up and down or sideways or obliquely allowing the Filter to align with the Light Intensity Transition that is in the scene. On the other hand, Lens "screw on" GradND Filters allow little scope in this regard: the preferred alternate method to aligning the filter's graduation with the scene's graduation is to shoot much wider and then crop the image in Post Production. This method has many potholes, not the least if which is that: for many scenes where a GradND is required, one is already using a WA or UWA Lens.

    The 'enthusiastic' GradND Filter users, usually have two three or even four Filters at various Graduation degrees of transition and these folk tend to always have Square Filters and a Mat Box or Filter Holder one size bigger than their largest Camera Format to allow the Grad NDs to be used on their WA and UWA lenses, which may have NO front filter thread and/or may suffer from extreme optical vignette if ANY Front Screw Filter is used: so for example, if using 135 ('full frame') format, they'd typically have a Filter Set for Medium Format Cameras (i.e. 645 or 6x6).

    That background information might raise more questions for you than it answers: if it does that's good, because GradND's are on of the specialty niches of Photography and I think it is well advised to research exactly what you can and cannot do and ow much it might cost to do well, what you want to do.

    To your questions:

    "Fixing" in Post Production is a very sensible and practical option. Most modern cameras have a Dynamic Range of maybe 8 ~11 Stops and that range is adequate for most scenes. Most computer screens have a DR of way much less and for Competition Display Prints you'd probably get about 6 Stops DR. So your camera is probably very capable of capturing a quality raw file of mostly all scenes. The bottom line is you need to research, understand and then employ best practice metering, making and post production. In a nutshell you have a form of what to do, but you need to go further - "if in doubt underexpose" is OK, but won't get you the best results: there is MUCH more.

    As ONLY a thumbnail sketch -
    > use the lowest practical ISO
    > know your camera's headroom and expose to the right as much as you can, usually never clipping any highlights, but knowing what highlights can be lost by clipping
    > if in doubt BRACKET the exposures on SHUTTER SPEED
    > learn to be excellent in bringing up the underexposed bits AND compressing the DR of the file to make a suitable image for scene and/or print display

    Using an ND Filter where a GradND Filter is required will achieve naught.
    Using a Polarizing Filter may gain some benefit, in some circumstances but be careful using Polarizing Filters with WA Lenses.
    Using a IR Filter, (for example Hoya R72) will change the light capacity of the scene, and will in some cases subdue the overall DR, but obviously you'd want an IR result in the first place.

    > HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) and Bracketing are different. The first is a procedure which uses Bracketing as one part of that procedure. HDRI is a good choice to manage the capture High DR scenes. There are limitations, one being Camera Movement and/or Movement of any element in the scene will ruin the image. A point to remember is, IF you have used an absolutely steady camera and Bracketed the shots on Shutter Speed and there is NO movement of any element in the scene, you have files that you can employ for HDRI at a later stage, yet still use each file individually for post production.

    What do I do?

    I quite dislike any Post Production, time spent in the darkroom, be it wet or digital, has always occurred to me as time I could be making more photos, so I tend to avoid HDRI, though I do know how to do it.

    On a similar line of thinking, I really don't fancy making a lot of landscape type images: slapping tripods around, all the time taken to set up and to make the image can drive me nuts, if I needed to carry GradND Filters and set those up too, I would be totally gone - but and however - there are times when you gotta do what you gotta do - so I:

    > select the best lowest practical ISO
    > know how much I can push each camera to the right
    > bracket on Shutter Speed
    > select the BEST file of the bracket and touch it up in Post Production

    Here is an example which was shot just before sunrise (the sun will rise behind the lighthouse). In the original file the lighthouse and the foreground is in deep deep shadow:

    18493321-lg.jpg

    Additionally I like IR, here is an example of an high DR scene (sunrise at a beach) made with an Hoya R72 filter on the camera's lens:

    18392681-lg.jpg

    WW

    All Images © AJ Group Pty Ltd Aust 1996~2019 WMW 1965~1996

  3. #3
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    Re: High Contrast locations

    [QUOTE=

    > learn to be excellent in bringing up the underexposed bits AND compressing the DR of the file to make a suitable image for scene and/or print display

    Thanks for very good and extensive reply, I had to read it a couple of times to have it all sink in. The only thing I didn't quite understand was how to compress the Dynamic Range of a file.

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